While in Phoenix for a business meeting, CPT seized an opportunity to visit The Grand Canyon. When visiting the area, CPT flew to Phoenix, drove to Sedona, drove to The Grand Canyon, and then returned to Phoenix for the meeting. Sedona is a 2-hour drive north from Phoenix. The south rim of The Grand Canyon is a 2-hour drive north from Sedona. Phoenix is a direct 3.5-hour drive south from The Grand Canyon and takes one along some beautiful mountain highways. We highly recommend the trip for anyone visiting Phoenix or northern Arizona.
The Grand Canyon attracts over 5.5 million visitors per year, 17% of whom are international tourists, who marvel at this natural wonder created by the erosive force of the mighty Colorado River. The Grand Canyon is the world’s 5th deepest canyon (5,697 feet), behind only the Yarlung Zibo Canyon in Tibet (19,715 feet), the Canon del Colca in Peru (11,488 feet), the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru (11,001 feet), and Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico (6,000 feet), although some books state that 3 canyons in the Himalayas are deeper than Yarlung, which to those pundits would place The Grand Canyon as the world’s 8th deepest canyon, which is still impressive. Moreover, The Grand Canyon is magnificent in multiple dimensions. The canyon is 277 miles long and reaches 18 miles at its widest. Wow! Now we know why Evel Knievel never attempted to jump The Grand Canyon!
Native Americans inhabited the canyon for thousands of years, but it was not until 1540 that the canyon became known to the New World. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt protected sections of the canyon as a game preserve. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson authorized Grand Canyon National Park as the 17th such park in the nation’s system. According to National Geographic, Grand Canyon National Park is the nation’s 2nd most visited national park, behind Great Smokey Mountain National Park and ahead of Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, and Yellowstone National Parks.
While visiting, CPT stayed at The Grand Hotel in Tusayan. We highly recommend the hotel, which was reasonably priced off-season, especially considering the luxuriousness of the accommodations. Most importantly, the hotel is only 1.5 miles from the south rim park entrance.
Once entering the park, CPT’s Mark Spivak made the trip a physical journey. During a 12-mile day hike, Mark made it almost all the way to the Colorado River and then returned to the top of the Bright Angel Trail. Mark would have made it to the River, about another mile through the bottom of the canyon, but due to a late start was concerned about not exiting before nighttime. Due to a wish to avoid remaining in the canyon after nightfall, Mark made great time. He passed every hiker he saw while entering the canyon and passed all but two while exiting. Still, despite the speed and physical rigor, he found time to snap some excellent photos.
The canyon hike was a worthwhile workout. The exit up the canyon was very steep and long, which worked leg muscles differently than a typical hill run in Atlanta. Moreover, the temperature changes and duration necessitated carrying a backpack to hold clothing shed from the beginning of the hike, food, and plentiful sports drinks.
The night before the hike there was ice on the ground in Tusayan, where the hotel is situated at an elevation of 6,600 feet above sea level. At the beginning of the hike the temperature at the top of the rim was in the low 50s, which required starting with warm-up pants and a sweatshirt. Yet, at the bottom of the canyon, later in the day the temperature reached the mid 80s, which required a revision to gym shorts and a tank top. The temperature change was due both to a warm front entering the area and the mile difference in atmospheric elevation.
At the end of the physical ordeal, a shower at The Grand was highly welcomed. Mark needed to rest for his next day’s activity, climbing Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, where the length was much shorter, but the temperature would reach 100 degrees.